An open letter signed by 16 LGBT and black religious leaders says that Obama is reaching out to bring blacks and homosexuals together. But Obama makes clear that even if he disagrees with African-Americans who are anti-gay, he still wants their votes.
“We believe that Barack Obama is constructing a tent big enough for LGBT Americans who know that their sexual orientation is an innate and treasured part of their being, and for African American ministers and citizens who believe that their religion prevents them from fully embracing their gay brothers and sisters,” the letter states. “And if we are to confront our shared challenges we have to join together, build on common ground, and engage in a civil dialogue even when we disagree.”
My views on gay issues and on choice issues are well-known. I did not trim my sails in the conversation I had with them. And I think as a consequence of appearances like that, I am helping to encourage understanding that will ultimately strengthen the cause of LGBT rights.
At some point, if we are going to have a conversation on these issues, what I expect to be judged by in the LGBT community is, have I been a strong advocate, have I been a forceful advocate, have I avoided these issues in any way. And If I have not, then that’s how I expect to be judged.
And supports or associates with a guy who has said and not repudiated stuff like this?
This world the Sun calls narrow surely encompasses within its borders viewers of the 700 Club. That means one million viewers each day. Among them McClurkin is notable, and cherished, as the man with the guts to say homosexuals are “trying to kill our children.”
The media didn’t call the Republicans on Donnie McClurkin. He came. He sang. He conquered. He was surrounded on the stage by a cloud of singing little children, sitting cross-legged, wearing white, pure and innocent—a semiotic coding unmistakable to that narrow world where millions of people know that Pastor McClurkin has devoted his life to saving children from the cult-like snares of the homosexual recruiters. “The gloves are off,” he told the 700 Club. “And if there’s going to be a war, there’s going to be a war.”
And then turns around and attempts to back-pedal as far as he can without losing his audience.
“They accuse me of being anti-gay and a bigot,” McClurkin said. “We don’t believe in discrimination. We don’t believe in hatred, and if you do you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s the whole premise of God. That’s the whole premise of Christ is love, love, love. But there is a side of Christ that deals in judgment, and all sin is against God.”
McClurkin has said that homosexuality is a choice and that he overcame homosexual desires through prayer, comments that drew fire from gay and lesbian activists and caught the Obama campaign, which has been using faith to reach out to African-American voters, off guard.
The Grammy-winning singer said Sunday his words had been “twisted.””Don’t call me a bigot or anti-gay, when I have been touched by the same feelings,” McClurkin went on. “When I have suffered with the same feelings. Don’t call me a homophobe, when I love everybody … Don’t tell me that I stand up and I say vile words against the gay community because I don’t. I don’t speak against the homosexual. I tell you that God delivered me from homosexuality.”
That makes it somewhat easier for Obama to wrap up his Advocate interview with something like this.
But for your audience, your readership, the one thing that I do want to make sure is included in this article is that on issues from “don’t ask, don’t tell” to DOMA to the gay marriage amendment to the human rights ordinance in Illinois that is the equivalent of what we’ve been attempting to do at the federal level and that I was a chief cosponsor of and then passed — there has not been a stronger and more consistent advocate on LGBT issues than I have been.
And it is interesting to me and obviously speaks to the greater outreach that we have to do that that isn’t a greater source of interest and pride on the part of the LGBT community.
But it’s what’s not said that’s most important here. Would McClurkin’s followers let a “president Obama” do what he says he wants to do? Would they let him do a way with “don’t ask, don’t tell”? Would they support a repeal of DOMA? Would they oppose an anti-gay constitutional amendment? Or continue to support a president who does oppose it?
McClurkin says “We don’t believe in discrimination” but, as I’ve pointed out before, not “believing” in discrimination and supporting protections against discrimination are two different things.
Actually, John, your remark reminded me of an interview I saw years ago when some sweet little old lady was asked about a law prohibiting workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. I guess she wanted to preserve her image as a sweet old lady when she said of the proposed law, “Oh, I’m against discrimination. I just don’t think we need a law against it.” It’s a nice sentiment, but even then I knew the reality was that in the absence of a law there was no way to prevent discrimination, no possible penalty for those who did the discriminating, and no legal remedies or recourse for those who were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation to fight it.
In her mind, that little old lady got to have it both ways by personally opposing discrimination, but at the same time supporting it by supporting a status quo that at best took a “do nothing” approach to anti-gay discrimination that left people no better off. But she got to feel good about herself, and remain a sweet old lady.
Of course, I can’t know for sure, what would happen. No one can, but I haven’t seen any evidence that people like McClurkin’s audience has truly shifted on any of the above issues. Or that McClurkin has shifted from his past positions.
* told The 700 Club — a Christian media outlet — that same-sex-attracted persons are child-killers and vowed to wage “war” — not peace nor Christian outreach — against gay people
* mischaracterizes his ongoing sexual attraction to men as if it were fully overcome and declines to discuss his lack of significant attraction to women
* asserts that because a handful of individuals with unstable or fluid sexual attraction claim to change, anyone can
And therein, in that last item, lies the rub. Because McClurkin can say he doesn’t “believe in” discrimination, but
Thus far, everything has been couched in a message of individual choice. As Chambers said, “…that’s something we think should be available for everyone who wants it..” Except that it doesn’t seem to stop with individuals who find their orientation in conflict with their religious beliefs. If it were, then it wouldn’t be a matter that concerns anyone else. But what’s not quite articulate just below the surface is that every single one of these “ex-gay” ministries is based in religion, and some of are backed by religious conservative political organizations, like the Family Research Council and PFOX, that are actively campaigning to legislate discrimination against people who are happy with their orientation, have no desire to change, and have the audacity to seek equal treatment under the law. (PFOX, by the way, is seeking to determine sex-education curriculum in our school district.)
…That, apparently, is beyond the limits of what you can say, at least on CNN or in the media. And I’d submit that the reason why that question doesn’t get asked regarding the “ex-gay” industry is precisely because the entire movement is founded upon particular religious beliefs. To ask the obvious question pointed out above would call those beliefs into question, because it means asking “So, if this is just about what’s right for you and goes with your beliefs, why not just leave everyone else who’s happy with their orientation alone? Why do the political organizations that back your ministries advocate discrimination against people who are happy being gay?”So, the purpose of “ex-gay” ministries and organizations isn’t merely to offer an alternative to people whose sexual orientation conflicts with the religious beliefs. Their underlying message is, “If you don’t want to be discriminated against, etc., then change.”
Not “believing in” discrimination stops short of opposing discrimination, or supporting equal treatment under the law, and thus ensures that every story of discrimination already heard is will happen again and again and again.
And that is why McClurkin would not get many “amens” if, say, he joined forces with a group like the Maryland Black Family Alliance.
A group of black leaders, most of them heterosexual, last week announced the formation of the Maryland Black Family Alliance. The organizers pledge to push for legalizing gay unions with a campaign around the state and in Annapolis — and change the minds of black elected officials who reject a connection between gay rights and civil rights.
“This is civil marriage, it’s not just gay marriage,” said Elbridge James, the group’s leader and a former political action chairman for the Maryland branch of the NAACP. “We’re asking legislators to put their hand on the Bible to protect the Constitution.”
The activist from Rockville, who is 60, said many blacks have been traditionally so focused on other problems facing their community, including crime and high school dropout rates, that same-sex marriage has gotten little traction. “But plenty of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters have been harassed,” he said.
Neither would Obama, and he knows it.
Obama has tried to have it both ways. McClurkin is trying to have it both ways, preaching against gays and then claiming he “doesn’t believe in” discrimination. Gay Democrats are trying to have it both ways, supporting a candidate who talks a good game about LGBT equality while courting a voting block that decidedly does not.
To Obama I can only say, you’re tent ain’t big enough for me and Donnie McClurkin. And your talk ain’t smooth enough to convince me that it’s reasonable for me to be “on the same team” a someone one who actively opposes equal protections for me and my family, any more than you’d be able to convince me to break bread with David Duke or sell me a ticket to a Prussian Blue concert.
To Obama’s LGBT supporters who are trying to contort themselves into a position of continued support for Obama, I can only say what I’ve said before.
I’ve written before about my dismay with Democrats when it come to gay issues, and my frustration with Howard Dean and the direction the party seems to be taking where LGBT issues are concerned. And I suppose going into YearlyKos I should have known what I was getting into. Kos is, after all, known for saying that us “single issue” folks should zip it, sit tight on the back burner and support the party no matter what, even when it backs candidates that don’t support our concerns or issues. I should have known what to expect based on the comments I’d seen when the subject came up on netroots sites like MyDD and DailyKos. I should have figured I’d hear the same things I’d heard all along, even during the FMA debate.
…I have to admit I got argued down. I can’t take on the whole progressive netroots, and clearly I can’t change anyone’s mind. It kind of seems like gays have morphed into the ugly prom date who’d better just shut up about her date ignoring her and just be glad she got to go the prom at all. The best message I could salvage from it all, when it comes to gay & lesbian issues is “just keep doing what you’ve always done, vote Democratic, and don’t expect much.”
It sounds like a great recipe for Log Cabin Democrats.
The only problems with that recipe is it always turns out half-baked, and someone’s always going to accept it that way.